Pictures of a dog chained on top of a truck bed in Okotoks have been circulating on social media.
They were posted by a concerned local, who spotted the truck on Elma street, snapped the pictures, and reported the incident to the Alberta Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) as well as the RCMP.
A follow-up comment from the original poster stated the RCMP responded by saying they were not able to take action, while the ASPCA said they'd launch an investigation.
Though there is no legislation explicitly forbidding the transportation of animals in truck beds, ASPCA Communications Manager Dan Kobe says there are generalized protections surrounding the transportation of animals.
"In the Animal Protection Act Regulation 14(1) it says 'No person shall load or transport an animal in a vehicle that has a box or stock rack of a strength and height that is insufficient to adequately protect and contain the animal at all times.' So in many of these situations, the animal is not properly protected. If they're on a slippery surface, if they can potentially slide off or jump out or be knocked out of the bed of a truck, that is a potential breach of the Animal Protection Act Regulations."
He says tethers are somewhat of a grey area since a tether could conceivably prevent the animal from jumping out of or being hurled from the vehicle, but there are still many risks present.
The act also prohibits exposure to "injurious heat or cold," which could also be a factor on a hot summer day.
Kobe confirmed that an investigation is underway, where an officer will look at a few different factors including the length of the drive, the temperature on that day, and the manner in which the dog was secured to the vehicle.
He says the complainant did the right thing by calling them.
"We always want to hear from anyone in a situation like this. If they feel like the situation was unsafe for the animal, absolutely, one hundred per cent give us a phone call. We can follow up with the animal owner even if we can't get to the animal while they're still in the back of the truck. We can always follow up after and explain to the owner that this is a dangerous way to transport animals and a potential breach of the Animal Protection Act."
The process of investigating cases like this includes the deployment of an SPCA peace officer who checks in with the animal's owner and takes a look at the circumstances.
Kobe says education is always the first goal, with more serious action taken against owners who repeatedly violate the Animal Protection Act.
There are conceivable cases where a dog can be safely transported in the bed of a truck, though Kobe says it's never the safest option.
"Even if the dog wants to go with you on the road trip, and we know dogs love to do that, it's safer for them not to be in the bed of the truck, not at risk, because they can jump out or be thrown out if there's a collision, then they become a risk to the vehicle they're in, other vehicles on the road, and of course, they're at risk themselves. The safest place for a dog is inside a vehicle."
Calls like this are fairly common, with the ASPCA receiving two similar complaints the same day this one was filed.